Buying in RVA: Tips and Insight from our Buyers

The Richmond Real Estate market continues to be fast-paced!  Inventory is low, homes are selling quickly, and buyers need to be well-poised to make offers when they find a home they love.  Our Buyer’s Specialist, Kim Nix, does a fabulous job of walking with our clients throughout the process, answering questions and supporting our buyers until their house is their own.  While Kim’s help is priceless, we asked three of our recent buyers to answer 5 of our burning questions about their recent experiences:

What advice would you give someone just starting their home search?

Northside Home-Owner:

  • If you can, be patient and realistic about your timeline. With competition on the market, you may need to put in a few offers before one of them makes a house yours.
  • If you are currently a renter, you may want to ask if a month-to-month lease is available instead of a longer term lease if your renewal time is approaching. That can give you more flexibility with your moving window.
  • Have your finances in order and talk with a loan officer early in the process to know what is within your budget in terms of down payment, monthly mortgage payments, and setting up maintenance funds.
  • Think about finding an place where you can afford to put extra towards principal each month- it can reduce the amount of interest you pay over the course of the mortgage.
  • If you are searching with a partner, communicate with respect for each other’s opinions and priorities.
  • Keep your online searches active, but don’t be afraid to ask around or look for what you want away from a screen. Go to open houses, set up showings and look at spaces in real life. Sometimes seeing what you don’t like will help you feel more certain about a place that is a good fit for you.
  • Keep the essentials in mind when making a list of deal breakers. You can change paint colors, decor, landscaping and even construction as long as you have the resources and don’t need a place that is “perfect” from day one
  • If you want or need to do anything significant to the property, make sure you have the emotional and financial capacity to take it on.
  • Find people you can trust to guide you through the home search process. Kim, Kelly and Keri were not the first realtors I met with, but once I met them, I felt more confident know that if “my house” was out there, they would be the people to help me find it and create a great offer.

Westover Hills Home-Owner:

  • Hire Kelly and Kim and their team
  • But also, to get to know neighborhoods and see where you and your family might find a good fit.

Midlothian Home-Owner:

  • Come up with a very specific list of your must-haves and your potential compromises.
  • Stick to your guns on what you want and don’t want, and don’t be discouraged if the “perfect house” gets bought out from under you a few times. There will always be another “perfect house”, and having some patience is the best way to keep the whole process positive.

 

 

 

 

Is there anything that surprised you in the home search/buying process?

Westover Hills Home-Owner:

  • I was surprised how quick you need to be prepared to jump on an opportunity when you find the right house.  You need to have everything lined up and ready to go–realtor, mortgage pre-qualification, etc., and be ready to make quick decisions.

Midlothian Home-Owner:

  • Not really a surprise, but it was interesting to see how active the market was. If a house was attractive and fairly priced, it was immediately bought, so you had to be willing to get out and see a house as soon as it hit the market. It was also really interesting to see areas of the city I had never seen before while driving around looking at houses.

Northside Home-Owner:

  • I ended up moving to a great neighborhood that was not originally on my radar screen as a top pick.
  • I saw many more places than I expected to before wanting to place an offer on a place.
  • I was surprised at what it took to be a competitive buyer, both in terms of finances and time frame flexibility for moving.
  • I’m surprised I moved into a house with electric cooking, not gas. I was certain that was going to be a deal breaker for me, but as a package, I couldn’t walk away from the house as a whole without putting in an offer. I’m glad I could find myself flexible about what would make me happy on a day-to-day basis.
  • The home inspection was something I’m grateful I did not miss. I learned so much about the house and it made me feel more comfortable with closing negotiations.
  • When the offer was accepted, I was not immediately ecstatic–it took about 48 hours for the good news to sink in for me. For any future home buyers–I wouldn’t take that delay as a sign that you’ve made a bad decision.
  • I was surprised at how long I continued looking at listings even after I bought my house. No buyer’s regret here…

Please describe your experience with the loan pre-approval process and the financing process.

Northside Home-Owner:

  • I had a great loan officer who was willing to work me through varying financial scenarios: different types of loans, larger versus smaller down payments, shorter versus longer term loans, etc. It was helpful to see how much of an impact higher offers and/or a bigger down payment might make on a monthly payment, and conclude what was worth putting forth as a “best offer”. He was responsive and helped me be as nimble as possible with exploring and submitting offers.
  • When I filled out the loan application, it was before I started looking at houses so I could have an idea of what a good price range was for me.
  • I had a rough estimate of what I had at my disposal to put towards a house, but there was extensive documentation needed to get the loan approved. I had a great team guide me through everything I needed to expedite the process.
  • I put in my offer on a Sunday, so I was thankful to have had all the info I needed from places with more traditional MondayFriday business hours before the weekend started.
  • I considered (but ultimately did not join) a credit union because I was finding competitive mortgage rates with a regular lending company.

Midlothian Home-Owner:

  • Everything was fairly smooth. There were some hiccups as we sorted through some issues with my last house, but we were able to resolve it fairly easily. Once the loan was approved, we were free to look at houses, and after a number of potential visits and a few missed opportunities, we found a great house, made an offer, and got the house.

Westover Hills Home-Owner:

  • I worked with Gabe Corbett at George Mason and he was extremely helpful, responsive, and patient.  My advice would be to try to use someone that is referred to you, not necessarily the big bank you normally bank with, as I had a bad experience with the ‘big bank’ that I normally do the rest of my banking with before I went to work with Gabe Corbett.

What did you learn about the search process? 

Westover Hills Home-Owner:

  • Be prepared to have it take over your life for a little while!  In this market, you have to be ready to spend time every day looking at listings and be ready to jump on an opportunity right away.

Midlothian Home-Owner:

  • There are a lot of terrible houses on the market, a lot of weird/awkward floor plans and home-grown renovations. The key for me was to keep in mind that I was not shopping for a forever house, so it would have to be sold at some point in the future, so the weirder the house, the harder that resale becomes in a few years.

Northside Home-Owner:

  • I realized what a positive difference it made to have a great real estate team facilitating the search process. I never felt pushed or rushed, but was appropriately encouraged when I needed to make a decision on a certain timeline.
  • When my first offer on a place was rejected (after seeing a few dozen places), I was surprised at how ready I was to continue moving on in the search process instead of “grieving.” Some people may feel like they have a “one and only” home, but going to a wide range of places helped me realize that was not the case for me. Possibilities can sometimes feel overwhelming, but exploring them was the only way I eventually felt at peace with the home buying process.

What is your favorite thing about your new home? 

Northside Home-Owner:

  • Do I have to pick only one? I feel excited about how to make it my own, and at peace because it is a solid, safe house. As an avid cook, it’s wonderful to grown my own produce in the ground in addition to container gardening. The neighbors are lovely people. My work commute is easy. The neighborhood is astonishingly convenient for everything important to me. I’m glad I have easy access to so many diverse neighborhood in Richmond- and at the end of the day, I have a great place to return to and call home.

Westover Hills Home-Owner:

  • We found something rare- a renovated and updated home in my favorite neighborhood- Westover Hills!
  • I knew when we walked in that it was supposed to be the place we started a family in and stayed a very long time!

Midlothian Home-Owner:

  • I love the kitchen. It is much larger and functionally designed than any kitchen I’ve had in the past.

Are you considering taking the leap to sell your home or look to buy a new home this year?  If so, we’d love to work with you!  Reach out to us, let us answer any questions you may have and we will help you get started looking for a great new place to call your own!

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